The Phillies Really Need Cliff Lee to Pitch Deep Tonight in Boston

The Phillies Really Need Cliff Lee to Pitch Deep Tonight in Boston

Tyler Cloyd lasting only 2 1/3 innings in Monday night's 9-3 drubbing in Boston didn't happen in a vacuum. For only the second time all year, Charlie Manuel was forced to dip into his bullpen five times.

For the rest of the series, starting with Game 2 tonight, that figures to leave an already iffy bullpen frightfully shorthanded, putting something of a wrench in plans to win their third series in four and reach .500 for the first time since way back on Apr. 14.

Mike Stutes, Jeremy Horst, and Mike Adams each topped 30 pitches last night, likely leaving the Phillies with only one lefty, Antonio Bastardo, and only Chad Durbin for length. Bastardo's slugging percentage is actually 150 points higher vs. lefties, and Durbin's served five runs in his last four outings, none longer than three outs.

More relief staff woes: in his first appearance off the DL, Adams walked three for only the second time in his career and first since 2005.

The last time Manuel pitched five relievers, the Phillies went to extras in San Francisco on May 8, and none lasted more than an inning, so business was pretty much as usual for the series opener in Arizona.

Obviously not the case tonight.

And even though Boston starter Ryan Dempster's been, basically, a Dempster fire (zing!) of late, it's not like the Phillies did anything with the 10 baserunners Alfredo Aceves spotted them last night. Dempster (2-5, 4.63 ERA) hasn't made it to the sixth inning in three weeks, serving 15 runs and 20 hits in 12 2/3 innings over three starts since. He's walked 10 in his last two times out, and lasted only three frames yet surrendered four in his latest. Hasn’t been much better for him against the Phillies; he’s 1-4 with a 7.01 ERA in his last 11 starts.

Lee (5-2, 2.48 ERA) is rolling of late, working a 1.16 ERA in his last four starts after since being crushed in Cleveland, the latest of three-start stretch in which he went 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA. He's been scoreless in two of those four, going the distance in one in Miami last Wednesday, and the Phillies have won all four.

The longer Lee goes, the more the consequences of Cloyd's early exit are cushioned.

But twice in five starts at Fenway, Lee's last'ed fewer than six innings. He's 1-2 with a 4.73 ERA there lifetime. He's only gone eight or longer in back to back starts twice since August 2011, one of them the first week of 2013. Now's a good time for a third.

Basebrawl! Bryce Harper fights Giants' Hunter Strickland after HBP

Basebrawl! Bryce Harper fights Giants' Hunter Strickland after HBP

SAN FRANCISCO -- Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland's 98 mph in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied. At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Str

NBA Finals: Warriors coach Steve Kerr not well yet, but hasn't ruled himself out for Game 1

NBA Finals: Warriors coach Steve Kerr not well yet, but hasn't ruled himself out for Game 1

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Golden State's Steve Kerr expects to decide soon whether he will coach in the NBA Finals, saying Monday he's not yet ready but hasn't ruled himself out for Game 1.

Kerr said: "As of right now I would not coach Thursday night. It's still up in the air." He said that by Game 1, he might make a decision on his status.

The reigning NBA Coach of the Year, still not feeling well after a May 5 procedure to repair a spinal fluid leak, addressed the media Monday when acting coach Mike Brown was out with the flu.

He joked: "I told the team the good news is the team is really healthy, the bad news is the coaching staff is dropping like flies."

Brown has been coaching the team since Game 3 of the first round at Portland, with Kerr assisting at practice and from the locker room before and during games.